Give your child a boost, for safety's sake

February 6, 2006 - Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Seattle

(Originally ran in Beacon Hill News and South District Journal on 2/9/06, located at

02/09/2006 Brittany Blue

Motor-vehicle crashes are the No. 1 cause of death for children 4-8 years old. Nationwide, in 2003, car crashes claimed the lives of 331 children in this age group and injured thousands more.

Booster seats reduce a child's risk of injury in a crash 59 percent more than when they use an adult safety belt alone. Children 4-8 years old using adult safety belts are more likely to suffer fatal or disabling abdominal, head, and neck injuries.

Research conducted in lower income neighborhoods in King County between April and August 2005 revealed that booster seats were used correctly for only 27 percent of 4-8 year-old children. These numbers indicate that awareness needs to be heightened about protecting our children who have outgrown their toddler seats yet are too small for an adult safety belt.

As a mother of two, I want to believe that I'm doing everything in my power to safeguard my children's health and safety. A minor car crash in 2003, with my 3-year-old daughter as a passenger, revealed something different. After the crash, I had to reposition her child safety seat within the vehicle. I was busy and didn't give much thought to it since she was fine and secure within her seat. It wasn't until I took a class on child passenger safety to be a certified technician that I realized the seat itself was not buckled into the vehicle properly.

Parents want what is best for their children and will go to any length to keep them safe. Many parents don't realize that traveling in the car is the most dangerous thing that your child does. So, here are some tips to help keep your children safe in a vehicle:

* The best child safety seat is the one that correctly fits the child, the vehicle, and will be used every time on every trip. * All children who have outgrown child safety seats should use a booster seat until they are 8-years-old or 4-foot 9-inches tall. Children taller than 4'9" should ride in the back seat and be properly buckled in an adult seat belt: not with a shoulder belt tucked under the arm or behind the back. * Always read both the vehicle owner's manual and the child safety seat instructions before installing your child's car seat. * An old or used child safety seat should not be used unless you know its history. Also, such a seat should not be used if it has been in a crash, and it must have all its parts, including the instructions. * All child safety seats that are older than six years or recalled should be recycled or thrown away.

National Child Passenger Safety Week is Feb. 12-18. Please take time this week to learn about the best ways to secure your child while riding in a vehicle. For more information on booster seats, the new law regarding them, recalled car seats or to find a car seat inspection site in your area, visit or call 1-800-BUCKL-UP (1-800-282-5587).

A life-long Seattle resident, Brittany Blue is the child passenger safety coordinator for the Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Seattle.

The Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Seattle is a partnership of Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center, Harborview Medical Center and Public Health Seattle & King County. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funds this collaborative effort. Injury Free focuses on reducing injuries to children in Central and Southeast Seattle.


Brittany Blue